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Kola Boof - Important for Arabs and Americans Alike,
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This review is from: Diary of a Lost Girl: The Autobiography of Kola Boof (Hardcover)
I must confess I knew nothing of Kola Boof until I stumbled on her work while searching for material on political Islam. Kola Boof would have predicted my ignorance since I am a retired academic of Scandinavian ancestry living amid the cornfields of Iowa. But I found her (mixed) autobiography and collection of essays and poems fascinating and illuminating nevertheless.
Her autobiography is a tale of the triumph of indomitable will over adversity. Can one believe that a girl who was born along the upper Nile, who witnessed her parents being murdered, and was rejected by her own grandmother for being too black, and who was then rescued by a UNESCO worker and brought to the US where she received private tutoring and became a writer and poet? But there is more. She returned to North Africa as an adult and became a soft porn movie star and a mistress to Osasma bin Laden (before the events of 9/11/01). She then lived for a time in London and California where her writings against the Sudanese government brought a fatwa against her demanding she be executed for blasphemy. She finally settled down long enough to bear and raise her sons (but admits she never married their father, and admits that even this "common law" marriage eventually failed). Her hope for the future is to eliminate (or at least delegitimize) the racist denigration of black women by black males, and to campaign for an end to slavery and the oppression of blacks in the Sudan. (Whew!)
My first instinct was that her autobiography might just be a tall story, a sort of "urban myth" about self-redemption of the kind which has been so prominent in the news of late. But I had to admit in the end that all the objective, checkable, features of Kola Boof's autobiography checks out. (Her credibility was challenged by the NY Times, but follow-up investigations by Fox News and others confirmed all the objective features of her story. The tallest of her tall tales is that she was the mistress of Osama bin Laden in Morocco before 9/11. But bin Laden supporters do not deny the story. They apparently think a fling with a black girl is so minor a matter as to be beneath notice.)
Still, I do believe she padded her account at places. For example, she tells two stories about her involvement in gunfights. The first was in California, where a car-load of young Arab Muslim assassins tried to "hit" her with a drive-by shooting. She says she grabbed two concealed handguns she had with her and charged the car firing with a gun in both fists. She says she blew out their rear tires but they got away leaving blood on the street. The second gunfight occurred in London, where a man broke into her bedroom intent on rape and she grabed a concealed handgun and fired one shot, which wounded the assailant and drove him off. Neither story is at all plausible.
Handguns are heavy, and two would make a mighty bulky purse or set of holsters - not at all easy to conceal. Firing handguns accurately is difficult at best, and hitting anything when firing from both hands is nearly impossible, despite the old cowboy movies. The blood on the street would indicate wounds requiring hospitalization, and there is no record of that. The second story is more believable as a shooting, but how did she secure a concealable handgun in London? The English have vastly more restrictive gun laws than we do. And again there is no known hospital record of a gunshot wound.
Fortunately (for me), Kola Boof admitted near the end of her autobiography that she was haunted by nightmares in her later life, and these nightmares included attempts on her life by Arab youths in a car and a big man breaking into her bedroom. Such events could have caused the nightmares, but I prefer to believe the nightmares were the source of the stories. But this criticism is a mere quibble. Her overall story remains as astonishing and admirable as ever.
I was disturbed by her repeated assertion that black men had been "castrated" by white racism. But her reasons became evident to me when I read her concluding essay, "The Authentic Black Man" (p. 365 ff). As an African-born immigrant she is aware that black men as well as whites are "racist." Her point here is very similar to an obversation by Malcolm X. He noticed black men often prefer white women, which shows they are just as "racist" in their evaluation of their fellow blacks as are whites. (When Malcolm's friend "Shorty" took up with white women Malcolm X viewed this as a sign of Shorty's growing decadence.)
For Kola Boof to feel affirmed by this world, she must be affirmed as a black woman, and that will only happen when black men begin experiencing black women as even more alluring than white women. But unfortunately for Kola Boof, the whole weight of the world seems to be against her. Even in her native Sudan, Africa, black men seek out lighter-skinned women as high-prestige partners.
I hope and pray Kola Boof can find the affirmation she is seeking. Lord knows she deserves it. I know she would reject my suggestion, but cannot we distinguish race from culture? I would argue there really is something deficient about African culture. Otherwise (sub-Saharan) Africa would not have failed so abjectly to have created a positive and dynamic life for itself after colonialism, as has, for example, South Korea or India. Max Weber claimed the fruits of capitaliam were brought into being by the "Protestant ethic", by which he meant repressing feelings and emotions long enough to enact long-term projects and to fulfill our promises to one another. What Weber calls "the Protestant ethic" is what black school kids in America call "acting white." But unfortunately, if blacks or or anyone else wants to build the sort of advanced social world Kola Boof so admired when she first arrived in the US, there is no alternative to becoming much more self-controlled, and much less "instinctive", than she describes "true" blacks as being.
I fear my review has not done justice to Kola Boof's achievement. Buy it and read it. It is an unforgetable experience.